Why fly when you can sail?

Cer­tain des­ti­na­tions of­fer ex­tra tourist treats if you ar­rive by boat rather than a plane.

Sunday Star-Times - - SUNGSHOT -

There is a trade-off with cruise travel: Yes, all the hard work is done for you and any gaps in the itin­er­ary are eas­ily filled, but of­ten there is a lack of spon­tane­ity and time spent ashore is a box-tick­ing blur.

So when does cruise travel beat out the other op­tions?

St Peters­burg, Rus­sia

Yes, you can fly to St Peters­burg or train there from Moscow, but nei­ther beats the bonus for west­ern­ers of be­ing able to avoid the lengthy, bu­reau­cratic and ex­pen­sive Rus­sian visa process that comes with be­ing a cruise ship vis­i­tor to the city.

If you ar­rive by cruise ship you’re al­lowed 72 hours of tour­ing this canalled gem, pro­vided it’s guided.

Valetta, Malta

There are many facts that trivia pro­mo­tions will tell you about Malta: stun­ning scenery, al­lur­ing deep-blue seas and fan­tas­tic cui­sine. They miss out the part about the em­bar­rass­ingly poor trans­port sys­tem.

Traf­fic jams and late buses are now a way of life. Of course, you get all of the former and none of the lat­ter if you pick a cruise that docks at Valetta and cruises around the main is­land and its sis­ter, Gozo.

Port Moresby and Alotau, Pa­pua New Guinea

For Ki­wis, this one is a case of ‘‘so close, and yet so far away’’.

Pa­pua New Guinea re­mains largely snubbed, de­spite its prox­im­ity. Flights to its cap­i­tal, Port Moresby, are rel­a­tively ex­pen­sive and re­quire at least one stop in Aus­tralia. Even then, the is­land na­tion is poorly con­nected do­mes­ti­cally. A cruise with stops in Pa­pua New Guinea lets you ex­pe­ri­ence its vi­brant cul­ture, lo­cal crafts, huge rain­for­est and stun­ning coral reefs with far, far less has­sle.

Luxor, Egypt

My grand­mother fondly re­mem­bers her birth­day in 1980 cel­e­brat­ing in the sun on the top deck of a felucca cruis­ing the Nile not far from Luxor: ‘‘I felt like Cleopa­tra. You just can­not beat it’’. And what was true nearly four decades ago (and for Cleopa­tra a cou­ple of mil­len­nia ago), still holds to­day. Yes, Luxor has an in­ter­na­tional air­port, but the an­cient city and its tem­ples are right on the river. The Nile is Egypt, and there is only one way to see the Nile and that’s cruis­ing in a boat.

Par­intins and Manaus, Brazil

These two cities lie along the mon­u­men­tal Ama­zon river, Par­intins on an is­land ar­chi­pel­ago in dense rain­for­est, and Manaus as a former rub­ber-trade boom town that is now the base of many Brazil­ian Ama­zon river cruises. Manaus is larger, more than 1600km in­land and has more than a few faded glam­our clues to its Vic­to­rian-era trad­ing riches, in­clud­ing the Art Nou­veau-style Mu­nic­i­pal Mar­ket, while the In­dian Mu­seum and golden-domed Opera House of­fer the so-called ‘‘jun­gle city’’ an ur­ban jux­ta­po­si­tion. But you came here for the mon­keys, right?

Cruis­ing is a peace­ful way to see Valetta.

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